Homemade Ricotta

This is one of those recipes that makes me feel like a magician. Just 3 ingredients come together to create a super creamy homemade ricotta cheese. Store-bought just pales in comparison! You could use this ricotta to top toasts in along with jam or honey (or my salsa verde!), dollop it onto homemade pizza, or serve with a comforting bowl of pasta. I save the strained liquid, also known as whey, to use as my cooking liquid for polenta, a pot of beans, or in place of buttermilk!

Prep time 30mins
Cook time 12mins
Serves or Makes: 10 ounces plus ~2 quarts whey

Recipe Card


  • 8 cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons white distilled vinegar or lemon juice


  • Step 1

    Heat milk in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat, stirring often, until it reaches 150F degrees, about 12 minutes. There should be visible whisks of smoke and tiny bubbles on the surface. Stir in salt and lemon juice or vinegar and turn off the heat. Let sit for 10 minutes undisturbed.

  • Step 2

    Line a fine mesh strainer with two layers of cheesecloth or a clean and lint-free kitchen towel set over a deep bowl.

  • Step 3

    Transfer ricotta curds to cheesecloth and let drain for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally if necessary to help it along. Pick up the edges of the cheesecloth and twist to get the last bit of moisture out. Note: the longer you drain the ricotta, the dryer the cheese will be. This homemade product is much different than watery store-bought ricotta! If you want a slightly more moist cheese, stop draining the ricotta when a few drops of liquid still dripping out. For a very dry product, continue to drain (even overnight in the refrigerator) until it stops dripping completely.

  • Step 4

    Serve ricotta immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container, until ready to serve and up to 4 days.

  • Step 5

    You can reserve leftover whey for cooking things like polenta, a pot of beans, or using in recipes in place of buttermilk. Store in an airtight container for up to one week or freeze for up to one month.